This year the University of Arizona Student Recreation Center celebrates its 25th anniversary. The facility, which originally opened in 1990, underwent extensive renovations in 2010 and since then has been ranked among the top rec centers across the country.
Lynn Zwaagstra, the director of campus recreation at the University of Arizona, answers a few of our questions, highlighting how the rec center has changed over the years and how they are planning to celebrate the milestone.
Over the past 25 years, how was the Student Recreation Center changed?
LZ: The recreation center has undergone both renovation and expansion over the past 25 years to meet the growing population and the changing needs and interests of the UA community. In 2010, with the expansion of the weight room and the addition of the bouldering wall, Outdoor Adventures Center and sand volleyball courts, Campus Recreation is now able to offer more diverse indoor and outdoor recreation programming. While the facility has changed significantly, the real improvement is in the diversity of health, recreation and wellness programming available to the campus. Approximately 80 percent of the student population reports participating in campus recreation programs as a result of the myriad of offerings.
What makes the University of Arizona Rec Center stand out from the rest?
LZ: Campus recreation believes strongly in engaging the campus community in recreation and wellness offerings. We do that through the recreation center facility, but also through a variety of other facilities on campus and diverse programming. Many of our programs are recreational or social in nature; meaning people with all interests and abilities can find their place within the scope of recreation. It is no longer just about competitive sports. A major component of our programming focuses on holistic health and wellness. For example, we partner with the Center for Compassion Studies to offer Yoga Nidra and Mindfullness. We constantly seek input for the student population to fine-tune our diverse slate of offerings in order to meet their needs and to be successful.
Why is it important for the University of Arizona to have a top notch Rec Center?
LZ: Research has shown that recreation facilities are a major factor for students when deciding what school to attend. Campus recreation departments offering comprehensive facilities and holistic health and wellness opportunities are more attractive to today’s savvy college students. Most importantly, research has shown a strong correlation between participation in recreation programs and facilities to academic success (higher GPA) and retention. This is due to a variety of reasons, including improved health, ability to concentrate, reduced stress, elevated mood and enhanced social network. Indeed, student survey data at the University of Arizona shows these same positive impacts. The Campus Recreation Department at the university wants to have a top-notch program to provide these benefits and to positively contribute to our students’ ability to attain a college education.
What are you doing to celebrate the 25th anniversary?
LZ: We have planned a yearlong celebration for Campus Recreation’s 25th anniversary. On the 25th day of every month (which began in August 2015 and will continue through April 2016) we will be hosting special events/activities and offer discounts on some of our popular programs and services. These include $25 massages at the RecSPA, $25 off annual memberships, free access to the Rec Center and free fitness classes.
Looking toward the future, where do you see the Rec Center in five or 10 years?
LZ: Within the next five to 10 years, I envision the Rec Center becoming even more significant to the recruitment and retention of students at the University of Arizona. The community center approach will continue to resonate with the student population, attracting those students living both on-campus and off, and becoming a central part of the socialization and engagement experience at UA. Video services and programming, with fitness classes and wellness instruction, will make recreation accessible to those UA students in the online and distant learning programs. In response to the growing needs of the UA community, the Campus Recreation Department will continue to expand across campus and to satellite locations, making recreation services readily accessible to even more students.